16 of 28 people found the following review helpful
The best-- until it isn't
, March 28, 2012
This review is from: The Eternal Ones of the Dream: Selected Poems 1990 - 2010 (Paperback)
This is a difficult review for me to write, because James Tate is my favorite contemporary American poet. He had a run of unsurpassed brilliance, beginning with the experimentalism of Viper Jazz in the mid-70s and concluding with Shroud of the Gnome in 1998. His trademarked verbal acrobatics knocked me for a loop like nobody else's.
When I walked up to a bookstore's poetry shelf and beheld the girth of Tate's next volume, Memoir of the Hawk, my heart sank. He had taken his customary time period between volumes, but instead of the usual 40 to 50 poems, he had cranked out over a hundred. The poems were prose poems with arbitrary line breaks, absurdist narratives that elicited a wry smile. It was as if Tate had read Russell Edson's cautionary and gnomic work, decided that it looked a lot easier than what he was doing, and set to work.
I will be perusing this volume for many years to come, hoping to find more lines with the lapidary brilliance of:
"And the dream has a pain in its heart/ the wonders of which are manifold,/or so the story is told."
Those lines end Dream On, from Shroud of the Gnome, Tate's final (to date) blaze of glory.
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